There Are Thousands Of Unidentified Bodies Like Boston’s “Baby Doe”

Police in Massachusetts managed to identify the remains of 2-year-old Bella Bond. But there are currently as many as 40,000 unidentified bodies whose identities remain a mystery.

Sep 21, 2015 at 5:19 PM ET

The identity of “Baby Doe”—Bella Amoroso Bond, the 2-year-old girl whose decomposing body was found wrapped in a garbage bag on the shoreline of Boston Harbor in June—is now allegedly known after months of investigation. But there are still thousands of bodies across the country that authorities are unable to I.D., thousands of people who will never get justice.

There currently are 12,356 sets of unidentified human remains in the U.S., according to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, a database maintained by the Department of Justice to help put a name to unidentified remains. Other crime experts put that total closer to 40,000—a total that includes the unidentified remains of people who weren’t necessarily victims of a crime. The large number of unidentified bodies has been described by the National Institute of Justice as “The Nation’s Silent Mass Disaster.”

Of the 12,356 cases identified by NMUPS, about 85 percent remain open. The roughly 15 percent that have been closed aren’t necessarily actually solved; in this situation “closed” can sometimes just mean that authorities are no longer actively investigating the cases.

Of all the states, California has the largest number of unidentified remains with 2,068, according to NMUPS data. 7.2 percent of those cases have been closed. In Massachusetts, where Bond was found, there are 98 sets of unidentified human remains that have been reported to the NMUPS, 78 of which remain open cases.

Michael McCarthy, the live-in boyfriend of Bond’s mother, Rachelle Bond, has been charged with the girl’s murder. At his arraignment on Monday, prosecutors claimed that McCarthy was fascinated with the occult and that he believed the 2-year-old girl was possessed and that “it was her time to die.” Rachelle Bond has been charged with being an accessory to murder after the fact for allegedly helping McCarthy dispose of her daughter’s body.